Austria is home to one of Europe’s most respected railways with the efficient ÖBB Railjet and a selection of scenic services making it a cinch for Aussies to explore this corner of the Continent.
PLANES, trains and automobiles are the typical transport when planning a European escape.
But when Austria is the destination the holy trinity can be reduced to a poetic partnership with the country’s extensive and efficient train network letting travellers ditch the car to rely exclusively on the rails after flying in from Australia.
The Austrian railway in operated by ÖBB with the eco-friendly company that carries 1.3 million passengers every day relying on renewable energy and boasting an on-time record that hovers around 98 per cent.
Railway tracks zig and zag across the landlocked country with the ÖBB Railjet darting along the main routes to link big cities and regional centres, country trains connecting smaller settlements, and scenic services reaching bucket-list locations.
Here are three options for Aussies looking to limit their transport to planes and trains the next time they hop across to Europe.
1. CROSS-COUNTRY CONNECTOR
Travellers set on seeing the settlements sitting in the very heart of Austria – both geographically and spiritually – can ride the ÖBB Railjet between Vienna and Salzburg and break the journey to linger in both St Pölten and Linz.
Linz is Austria’s third-largest settlement and UNESCO City of Media and Arts boasting some of Europe’s best museums and galleries while St Pölten is a marvellously modern metropolis with a history dating back to the 12th century.
There are two Railjet runs along the Vienna-to-Salzburg route every hour with the fastest connection, the Railjet Xpress, limiting stops to St Pölten and Linz to make for an efficient journey.
2. THE SCENIC SEMMERING
This legendary railway route dawdles between Gloggnitz and Semmering, which is one of Austria’s top winter resort towns, to take in some of Europe’s most sublime alpine scenery.
And while the vistas framed by the carriage windows during the journey are picture perfect there’s another reason to make the run with the line built between 1848 and 1854 now considered to be one of the world’s most significant engineering projects that happened when building railways was a new endeavour.
If that doesn’t satisfy the search for scenic other options for picturesque railway runs include the course between Salzburg and Innsbruck via Bischofshofen, the Mariazell Railway joining St Pölten and Mariazell, and the connection from Bruck an der Mur to Hallstatt.
3. RIDE THE ABBEY RAIL
Melk – the pretty village beside the Danube River 80km from Vienna that’s home to the world famous Melk Abbey – is the perfect destination for a day trip from the Austrian capital with direct trains making the journey from the big smoke in around an hour.
That means travellers can depart Vienna’s main station after the morning rush subsides, spend a few hours exploring the rooms in this hilltop abbey before strolling the streets of the pretty settlement on the edge of the famed Wachau Valley, and then be back well before it gets dark.
To discover more ways to explore Austria by rail, visit the Austria Tourism website.
Written by Sarah Nicholson, a KARRYON contributor.